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Tomba to Tara: Little of Everything

February 21, 1998

NAGANO, Japan (AP) _ Two gold medals left. Two weeks of Olympic memories behind.

The Nagano Games were closing Sunday (Saturday night EST) with the gold medal men’s hockey game and men’s 50-kilometer cross-country skiing, ending an Olympics with a little bit of everything _ from the Herminator to the Dominator, from Tomba’s departure to Tara’s arrival, from ugly Americans to gorgeous mountain backdrops.

The hockey game pit Russia, the successor to the powerhouse Soviet Union teams, against the Czechs, who rode goaltender Dominik ``Dominator″ Hasek’s hot glove hand into the finals.

The Czechs beat both the United States and Canada on the way to the gold medal game. The Soviets won 10 gold medals in 12 Olympics from 1956-1992.

For the second straight Olympics, the United States posted its best Winter Games showing: 13 medals. America’s women led the way, taking eight of the medals and four of the six U.S. golds.

The youngest Olympic figure skating champion ever, Tara Lipinski, and teen teammate Michelle Kwan captured the last two U.S. medals with a 1-2 finish in figure skating.

Lipinski’s coming-out party was three-time skiing gold medalist Alberto Tomba’s farewell. And La Bomba’s torch was picked up by the Herminator _ Austria’s Hermann Maier, who survived a 100-foot fly-and-crash to capture a pair of gold medals. The ugly Americans _ some members of the U.S. hockey team _ trashed their rooms at the Olympic Village.

The medals count after the next-to-last day of the Nagano Games: Germany topped the list with 29 (12 gold, 9 silver, 8 bronze). Norway was second with 24 (9-10-5), while Russia (9-5-3) had 17.

_ SHORT TRACK SPEEDSKATING: America’s best hope at a medal went out early Saturday as Andy Gabel skidded into a wall during an early heat of the men’s 500 meters. But three gold medals were captured during the last night of short track.

In the 500 meters, Takafumi Nishitani of Japan was the winner, followed by An Yulong of China and Hitoshi Uematsu of Japan. Chun Lee-kyung of South Korea won the women’s 1,000 meters; Yang Yang S of China won the silver and Won Hye-kyung of South Korea the bronze.

And in the men’s 5,000-meter relay, Canada won while South Korea took the silver and China the bronze.

_ BOBSLED: The U.S. four-man bobsled team came close _ painfully close _ to ending the United States’ 42-year Olympic medal drought, winding up two-hundredths of a second out of a bronze medal. Driver Brian Shimer shouldered all of the blame.

``It’s nobody else’s fault other than mine,″ Shimer said. ``Every guy on the sled did his job. I didn’t have my best runs.″

Making it worse, four medals were awarded: gold to Germany, silver to Switzerland, bronze to both Britain and France. The latter pair tied for third.

_ HOCKEY: No, Canada. The gold-medal favorites were beaten for the second time in as many days at the Olympics, and leave Nagano without any medals. Finland’s 3-2 victory gave the underdogs the bronze medal over a Canadian team stocked with 23 NHL players.

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